Friday, September 26, 2008


Ok, HIPAA has had a big impact on my life from both sides. In my business we are careful to guard our patient's privacy and in my personal life I am somewhat sensitive with my own.

Because I am going on Revlimid and I am still physically able to bear children, there are some extra hoops to jump through. I have to promise that I will not get pregnant, share my meds, or nurse babies. I have to promise that on the occasions that I engage in sexual intercourse there will be so many barriers that there would need to be a star in the East for conception to occur. And finally, as if that weren't enough, I must also present myself at the blood drawing station for a pregnancy test.

So I pop over to the satellite location here in the industrial park. I have my health insurance info. I have some stuff to read (thanks Galrahn!) to pass the time. I am in a good mood.


The waiting room is small, 10x12 maybe. There is a window with a receptionist. The receptionist has a patient at the window, so I stand back a discreet distance. I am in no hurry. The receptionist looks past her patient and asks if I have a slip. I reply that I don't. She asks if my doctor has sent a fax. I reply that I have no idea. She states I need a slip or a fax. I know this is not true so I smile and say I am in the computer. I am getting irritated because, of course, everyone is watching us and listening. I am failing to understand why she does not just wait on the patient she has at the window and then ask me questions when it is my turn.

She continues to question me and asks what I am there for. I quietly reply "A pregnancy test." I am asked to repeat myself. I am getting angry. I raise my voice slightly "A pregnancy test." Her reply? "Oh. I'll be with you in a moment." I think to myself "No shit. Now that you have made me announce my business to the entire waiting room." Don't get me wrong, it would take a lot more than this to embarrass me. I am peeved on principle. The reason I am there is no one else's business.

When it is my turn at the window she tries to make pleasant conversation. I do not cooperate. Princess Crabby is not bound by conventions, if someone wants me to be nice.....I feel no compunction to oblige them.

After my blood is drawn I explain this situation to the girl who drew my blood. I tell her I know this is not her fault or responsibility, but I am not a nice enough person to speak to the receptionist in a civil manner.

If this turns out to be a monthly thing, that woman isn't going to like me much.
I just related the bulk of this to Jen and of course she had the best line. She told me that when asked why I was there I should have told the receptionist that I was there to discuss their HIPAA violations!!!!!
The girls in the office agree that would have been the best comeback.


Stella said...

I am peeved on principle. The reason I am there is no one else's business. Jeez, talk about obtuse. Hell, would you really want to be civil after that?

I would definitely follow Jen's advice.

Anonymous said...

Hello Boston Maggie,

Really sorry to hear of your situation.

I've been working HIPAA for a very large healthcare system for over six years. IMO, the best way to solve this little problem is with an official complaint. It doesn't take much time, it won't be investigated for awhile, but a copy of your complaint and a little discussion with the office manager of this practice, and I think your problem will be taken care of -- AND it may indeed help others in your situation.

Feel free to email me in confidence at, and I'll give you the specifics. BTW, it's free to do this, and I've noticed that several of my clients get great results when they follow through.

Compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rules has been in effect for over 5 years, yet most private practices are unfortunately clueless. Which is why I'm starting a HIPAA patient advocay practice -- since the providers just don't "get" it, it's time to empower the patients.

Lane Hatcher,